The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and fun. But for many people, it’s also a time of stress and anxiety. If you’re in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction
You may look forward to decorating the tree and baking sugar cookies. Then, you remember crowded shopping malls and family dinners with distant relatives asking you about your childbearing plans. You may also wonder how you’ll handle annual rituals that usually involve rum punch and champagne.
Learn how to celebrate the holidays without risking your recovery. Follow these tips for staying peaceful and sober, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing into the New Year.
Minimizing Holiday Stress:
- Anticipate triggers. Plan ahead for situations that may tempt you to drink. You’re more likely to make sound decisions if you avoid getting caught by surprise. Be prepared for social pressure and strong emotions.
- Watch your budget. Marathon shopping and credit card bills can cause financial strain. Figure out how much you can spend on entertaining, and gifts. Live within your limits.
- Enjoy nature. Set aside time for outdoor fun like ice skating and sledding. Go for a brisk walk and admire the snow.
- Work out. Physical activity is a great way to relax and burn off extra calories. Give yourself an early present of online fitness classes.
- Sleep well. You’re calmer and more resilient when your mind and body get adequate sleep. Stick to your regular bedtime. Turn off the TV and other devices at least 2 hours before retiring.
- Eat healthy. Proper nutrition provides energy and a sense of overall wellness. Plan your meals and snacks, so you get plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. If you love holiday treats like candy and pie, limit the serving sizes.
- Take a trip. A change of scenery might help. Treat yourself to a holiday vacation that will allow you to feel pampered and avoid situations that may be too demanding at this stage in your recovery.
- Attend extra meetings. If programs like AA have become part of your regular routine, check the calendar to find additional meetings and events to help you through the holiday season.
Managing Holiday Socializing:
- Create new traditions. Be creative. Invent new holiday activities if your old ones revolved around drinking. Pancake breakfast instead of a boozy brunch. Replace bar hopping with volunteer work.
- Be selective. A lighter schedule may help you feel more balanced. Pick the parties and events that are the highest priorities for you. Graciously turn down invitations to gatherings that could be too awkward.
- Snack wisely. An empty stomach can sabotage your willpower. Eat some bread and cheese or a handful of nuts before going out for the evening.
- Stay hydrated. There are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages you can still enjoy. In addition to plain water or juice, explore recipes for fancy mocktails with ingredients like star anise, muddled berries, and cinnamon.
- Help out. Shifting your attention to others is a great way to distract yourself from alcohol cravings or any feelings of self-consciousness.
- Leave early. Alcohol often flows more freely later in the night. If you prefer a quieter experience, be among the first to arrive and depart.
Be merry and sober this holiday season. The occasions you celebrate without alcohol may wind up being more meaningful and memorable. Next up, getting through the holidays, after losing a loved one.
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To Your Success,
A few days ago, I provided helpful tips which should help if you are struggling with anxiety and Alcoholism. Stress and anxiety often go hand in hand, so let’s examine how the role stress plays in this addiction.
Alcohol and stress have a complicated relationship. An occasional drink can help you to feel happier and more relaxed. On the other hand, heavy and prolonged consumption increases your risk for anxiety, depression, and other undesirable consequences.
Much of this is due to how alcohol affects your brain. When you’re healthy, your body deals with stress by increasing hormones like cortisol that prepare you for action, and then quickly restoring the usual levels once the challenge has passed.
Relying on alcohol disrupts this balance. Your stress responses become less efficient, and you may build up tolerance, so you have to drink more to achieve the same effects. Meanwhile, your drinking may create additional sources of tension. You may develop mental and physical health issues, and your drinking may interfere with your relationships and career.
You can break the cycle if stress is making you drink more, and your drinking is causing more stress. Try these tips and reach out to your doctor and your loved ones if you need more support.
Tips for Dealing with Stress:
- Think positive. Pay attention to the wonderful things that happen each day. Remember that hardships are temporary. Try to find the humor in difficult situations.
- Plan ahead. Identify potential obstacles before they occur. It’s easier to stay calm when you recognize your options and have a plan of action to pursue.
- Focus on solutions. Devote your energy to overcoming a challenge rather than complaining about it. Concentrate on the things you can change. Find ways to turn setbacks into opportunities for learning and growth.
- Eat healthy. Self-care makes you more resilient. Nourish your body and mind with a balanced diet rich in whole foods and fiber. Limit your intake of sugar, salt, and empty calories.
- Sleep well. High quality sleep promotes healing. Go to bed at the same time each night so you’ll wake up feeling alert and refreshed.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity reduces stress hormones and lifts your spirits. Enjoy a variety of workouts so you’ll stay motivated while you build up your strength and condition your heart.
- Live mindfully. Meditation and deep breathing can help you calm uncomfortable emotions and racing thoughts. Practice on your own or browse for instructional videos and apps online.
Tips for Drinking in Moderation:
- Set limits. Decide how many drinks you’ll have before you get started. That way you’re less likely to overindulge. You may also want to schedule alcohol-free days or weeks.
- Slow down. Pace yourself by sipping your wine. Stay hydrated with a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink.
- Eat a snack. Alcohol enters your bloodstream more gradually when you have food in your stomach. You still need to drink responsibly, but a snack gives you some extra protection.
- Resist peer pressure. Do you find yourself drinking more when you’re around some of your friends or coworkers? Create strategies for dealing with such triggers, like suggesting activities that don’t involve alcohol.
- Avoid binge drinking. There’s a big difference between having one drink a day for a week and having 7 drinks in one evening. Stick to the conventional guidelines for no more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
- Ask for help. Moderate drinking is safe for most adults, but you may need to give up alcohol if you have certain medical conditions. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate decision for you.
Positive thinking, relaxation practices, and self-care are more effective than alcohol when it comes to handling stress. If you think your drinking may be affecting your health and wellbeing, call a community hotline or ask your doctor about resources that can help you get back on track.
September is National Recovery Month. SAMSHA is a US government website with a huge list of helpful resources. Get started today. Help is available 24/7 by calling or texting the Crisis Hotline : 988
You your success,